3 Ways To Build A Successful Yoga Business
Teaching yoga tends to be a calling before it’s a business venture. We train to teach because we love yoga, and have experienced benefits from our practice that we want to share with other people. And for some, teaching holds the promise of a different kind of lifestyle — one where you can work for yourself, on your own terms, doing something that you believe in.
Because of this, it’s pretty common for yoga teachers to complete our first training and embark on our teaching journey without putting enough thought and planning into a key aspect of our new life: how will we actually make money?!
Our income might not be something we’re excited about, or even something that we think of as very important when we’re taking our first tentative steps to the front of the room to guide others through their practice. But making a reasonable income as a yoga teacher is vital if we want it to be a sustainable and fulfilling career. You’ll soon fall out of love with talking your students through a lovely long savasana if you’re thinking about the fact that you don’t have the cash to pay your gas bill.
1. Get Your House In Order
This is the first thing to do when you’re preparing to start teaching. You’ll be ten steps ahead of yourself if, before your very first class, you have everything in place to ensure the business side of your new venture runs smoothly. What does this mean, exactly?
Getting your house in order means making sure that you are legally and financially ready for work. So:
- Register as self-employed for tax. The process might vary depending on where you are, so do your research on your government’s tax website.
- Get your insurance in place
- Create a health questionnaire for all new students to fill in and sign before you teach them.
- Build a basic web presence — social media is valuable for yoga teachers, and having your own simple website can help to build your client base.
- Create business cards. Have a few in your bag at all times — you never know when you might find a networking opportunity.
Put together a file which contains all of your teaching certifications, insurance, financial and tax details so that you can grab the information you need easily at any time. Ideally, have an in-paper version and a digital version of this file. You’ll probably need to email copies of your certificates and insurance to employers and venues quite regularly, so having the documents on hand will save lots of time.
2. Create Systems
Once your house is in order, you are ready to begin teaching. But I suggest going one step further, and creating solid working systems for every aspect of your new business. This will save you time and avoid confusion when any issues or queries crop up. It can be strange to think of yourself as a business person as well as a yoga teacher. But you are running your own small business, and if you think of it that way, you can make things simpler for yourself.
A key system to put in place is a booking and payment system. This might be a completely manual system — i.e. a notebook in which you keep a record of each class and its attendees and payments received. However, it’s a good idea to consider an online booking system which can do all the admin for you.
It can be strange to think of yourself as a business person as well as a yoga teacher. But you are running your own small business, and if you think of it that way, you can make things simpler for yourself.
For example, Momoyoga can handle your bookings and payments; including block bookings, discounts and cancellations. It also serves as a clear online record of your income for each class which you can easily transfer into an Excel sheet to make filling in your tax return stress-free (no scrabbling in the bottom of your yoga mat bag for old invoices and handwritten receipts! I’ve been there.)
A booking system like this helps you to avoid issues with late or missed payments, and also allows you to capture information from your students — you could have an online health form which they fill in before coming to class, instead of having to give them a paper form to fill in and taking up time at the beginning of a session.
But, if you’re not yet ready for an online system, make sure you do put your own system in place. Keep detailed records — you might never need most of the information you keep, but if you do (for example, if you’re audited or if a student is injured in a class), you’ll be extremely glad to have those records.
3. Be Assertive
In my experience, yoga teachers are often very kind, generous people. Which is wonderful, and it shouldn’t be any other way! But don’t allow your generosity to get the better of you in your teaching business. It’s easy to let things slide — that student who always forgets to pay for their class, for example. But it’s important to put clear boundaries in place so that you don’t end up feeling taken-for-granted.
These boundaries can be very simple: for example, if you accept cash payments, make it clear to your students that they must make the payment at the beginning of the class, not at the end. If a student forgets to bring money and asks if they can pay next week, it’s your call; if you trust them, there’s no harm in agreeing now and then. But letting it happen once can, unfortunately, lead to it happening regularly, and this can damage your business.
If you have respect for the value of your teaching, your students will respect your business too. If you feel really uncomfortable asking for money, Momoyoga or a similar booking system is a really good solution.
So, teach yourself to be kind but firm. If you have respect for the value of your teaching, your students will respect your business too. If you feel really uncomfortable asking for money, Momoyoga or a similar booking system is a really good solution; all your students can pay online, in advance, so you don’t have to worry about cash or missed payments.
Be assertive, confident that your students keep coming back because your teaching is worth something to them, and you’ll have more headspace to dedicate to planning and teaching amazing classes.